Santiago, Dec 21 (EFE).- A British endurance swimmer and activist has swum in Antarctic waters without a wet suit as part of a campaign to create three more Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Earth’s southernmost continent.
The Antarctica 2020 campaign said in a press release Wednesday that Lewis Pugh completed a 17-minute, 30-second swim last week in waters of the Bellingshausen Sea that were roughly 0 C (32 F).
“It felt like 17 days,” the 45-year-old Pugh was quoted as saying on National Geographic’s Web site. “Anyone who says they enjoy swimming in cold water has never really done it.”
Pugh, who developed hypothermia as a result of the swim, said the goal of the 2020 campaign was to secure three more MPAs in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea and the Bellingshausen Sea within three years.
The extreme swimmer said now was the time to capitalize on the recent success of a campaign that resulted in representatives from 24 nations and the European Union agreeing in October to protect the Ross Sea in Antarctica from commercial fishing for 35 years.
Pugh, the United Nations Environment Program’s “Patron of the Oceans,” said the Ross Sea MPA and the new areas would cover a 7-million-sq.-kilometer (2.7-million-sq.-mile) expanse of ocean, roughly the same size as Australia.
He added that the Chilean government had proposed that a large MPA be created in Antarctica and now had a key role to play in convincing 23 other nations and the European Union to come on board.
The ocean activist said the creation of the MPAs would make those waters more resistant to climate change and allow them to help other seas recover from overfishing.